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Leaves from the Journal
Visit to Blair Athole 9 Sept, 1844


Monday, September 9, 1844

We got up at a quarter to six o’clock. We breakfasted. Mama came to take leave of us; Alice and the baby were brought in, poor little things, to wish us “good-by.” Then good Bertie came down to see us, and Vicky J: appeared as “voyageuse,” and was all impatience to go. At seven we set off with her for the railroad, Viscountess Canning and Lady Caroline Cocks § in our carriage. A very wet morning. We got into the carriage again at Paddington, and proceeded to Woolwich, which we reached at nine. Vicky was safely put into the boat, and then carefully carried on deck of the yacht by Renwick,^ the sergeant-footman, whom we took with us in the boat on purpose. Lord Liverpool, Lord Aberdeen, and Sir James Clark met us on board. Sir Robert Peel was to have gone with us, but could not, in consequence of his little girl being very ill.

Blair Athole, Wednesday, September 11.

At six o’clock we inquired and heard that we were in the port of Dundee. Albert saw our other gentlemen, who had had a very bad passage. Tuesday night they had a dreadful storm. Dundee is a very large place, and the port is large and open; the situation of the town is very fine, but the town itself is not so. The Provost and people had come on board, and wanted us to land later, but we got this satisfactorily arranged. At half-past eight we got into our barge with Vicky, and our ladies and gentlemen. The sea was bright and blue; the boat danced along beautifully. We had about a quarter of a mile to row.

A staircase, covered with red cloth, was arranged for us to land upon, and there were a great many people; but everything was so well managed that all crowding was avoided, and only the Magistrates were below the platform where the people were. Albert walked up the steps with me, I holding his arm and Vicky his hand, amidst the loud cheers of the people, all the way to the carriage, our dear Vicky behaving like a grown up person —not put out, nor frightened, nor nervous. We got into our postchaise, and at the same time Renwick took Vicky up in his arms, and put her in the next carriage with her governess and nurse.

There was a great crowd in Dundee, but everything was very well managed, and there would have been no crowding at all, had not, as usual, about twenty people begun to run along with the carriage, and thus forced a number of others to follow. About three miles beyond Dundee we stopped at the gate of Lord Camperdown’s place: here a triumphal arch had been erected, and Lady Camperdown and Lady Duncan and her little boy, with others, were all waiting to welcome us, and were very civil and kind. The little boy, beautifully dressed in the Highland dress, was carried to Vicky, and gave her a basket with fruit and flowers. I said to Albert I could hardly believe that our child was travelling with us— it put me so in mind of myself when I was the “Little Princess.” Albert observed that it was always said that parents lived their lives over again in their children, which is a very pleasant feeling.

The country from here to Cupar Angus is very well cultivated, and you see hills in the distance. .The harvest is only now being got in, but is very good; and everything much greener than in England. Nothing could be quieter than our journey, and the scenery' is so beautiful! It is very different from England: all the houses built of stone; the people so different,—sandy hair, high cheekbones; children with long shaggy hair and bare legs and feet; little boys in kilts. Near Dunkeld, and also as you get more into the Highlands, there are prettier faces. Those jackets which the girls wear are so pretty; all the men arid women, as well as the children, look very healthy.

Cupar Angus is a small place—a village—-14 miles from Dundee. There you enter Perthshire. We crossed the river Isla, which made me think of my poor little dog “Isla.” For about five or six miles we went along a very pretty but rough cross-road, with the Grampians in the distance. We saw Birnam Wood and Sir W. Stewart’s place in that fine valley on the opposite side of the river, All along such splendid scenery, and Albert enjoyed it so much—rejoicing in the beauties of nature, the sight of mountains, and the pure air.

The peeps of Dunkeld, with the river Tay deep in the bottom, and the view of the bridge and cathedral, surrounded by the high wooded hills, as you approached it, were lovely in the extreme. We got out at an inn (which was small, but very clean) at Dunkeld, and stopped to let Vicky have some broth. Such a charming view from the window! Vicky stood and bowed to the people out of the window. There never was such a good traveller as she is, sleeping in the carriage at her usual times, not put out, not frightened at noise or crowds; but pleased and amused. She never heard the anchor go at night on board ship; bur slept as sound as a top.

Shortly after leaving Dunkeld, which is 20 miles from Blair, and 15 from Cupar Angus, we met Lord Glenlyon in a carriage; he jumped out and rode with us the whole way to Blair,—and a most beautiful road it is. Six miles on, in the woods to the left, we could see Kinnaird House, where the late Lady Glenlyon (Lord Glenlyon’s mother, who died about two or three months ago) used to live. Then we passed the point of Logierait, where there are the remains of an ancient castle,—the old Regality Court of the Dukes of Athole. At Moulitiearn we tasted some of the “Athole brose,” which was brought to the carriage.

We passed Pitlochrie, a small village, Faskally, a very pretty place of Mr. Butter’s, to the left, and then came to the Pass of Killiecrankie, which is quite magnificent; the road winds along it, and you look down a great height, all wooded on both sides; the Garry rolling below it. I cannot describe how beautiful it is. Albert was in perfect ecstasies. Mr. McInroy’s, to the right, is very pretty. Blair Athole is only four or five miles from the Killiecrankie Pass. Lord Glenlyon has had a new approach made. The house is a large plain white building, surrounded by high hills, which one can see from the windows. Lord and Lady Glenlyon, with their little boy, received us at the door, and showed us to our rooms, and then left us.

Blair Castle, Blair Athole,
Thursday, September 12.

We took a delightful walk of two hours. Immediately near the house the scenery is very wild, which is most enjoyable. The moment you step out of the house you see those splendid hills all round. We went to the left through some neglected pleasure-grounds, and then through the wood, along a steep winding path overhanging the rapid stream. These Scotch streams, full of stones, and clear as glass, are most beautiful; the peeps between the trees, the depth of the shadows, the mossy stones, mixed with slate, &e., which cover the banks, are lovely; at every turn you have a picture. We were up high, but could not get to the top; Albert in such delight; it is a happiness to see him, he is in such spirits. We came back by a higher drive, and then went to the Factor’s house, still higher up, where Lord and Lady Glenlyon are living, having given Blair up to us. We walked on, to a cornfield where a number of women were cutting and reaping the oats (“shearing” as they call it in Scotland'), with a splendid view of the hills before us, so rural and romantic, so unlike our daily Windsor walk (delightful as that is); and this change does such good: as Albert observes, it refreshes one for a long time. We then went into the kitchen-garden, and to a walk from which there is a magnificent view. This mixture of great wildness and art is perfection.

At a little before four o’clock Albert drove me out in the pony phaeton till nearly six—such a drive ! Really to be able to sit in one’s pony carriage, and to see such wild, beautiful scenery as we did, the farthest point being only five miles from the house, is an immense delight. We drove along Glen Tilt, through a wood overhanging the river Tilt, which joins the Garry, and as we left the wood we came upon such a lovely view—Beny-Ghlo straight before us—and under these high hills the river Tilt gushing and winding over stones and slates, and the hills and mountains skirted at the bottom with beautiful trees; the whole lit up by the sun ; and the air so pure and tine; but no description can at all do it justice, or give an idea of what this drive was.

Oh! what can equal the beauties of nature! What enjoyment there is in them! Albert enjoys it so much he is in ecstasies here. He has inherited this love for nature from his dear father.

We went as far as the Marble Lodge, a keeper’s cottage, and came back the same way.

Monday, September 16.

After our luncheon at half-past three, Albert drove me (Lord Glenlyon riding with us) to the Falls of the Bruar. We got out at the road, and walked to the upper falls, and down again by the path on the opposite side. It is a walk of three miles round, and a very steep ascent; at every turn the view of the rushing falls is extremely fine, and looking back on the hills, which were so clear and so beautifully lit up, with the rapid stream below, was most exquisite. We threw stones down to see the effect in the water. The trees which surround the falls were planted by the late Duke of Athole in compliance with Burns's. “Petition!’

The evening was beautiful, and we feasted our eyes on the ever-changing, splendid views of the hills and vales as we drove back. Albert said that the chief beauty of mountain scenery- consisted in its frequent changes. We came home at six o’clock.

Tuesday, September 17.

At a quarter to four o’clock we drove out, Albert driving me, and the ladies and Lord Glenlyon following in another carriage. We drove to the Pass of Killiecrankie, which looked in its greatest beauty and splendour, and appeared quite closed, so that one could not imagine how one was to get out of it. We drove over a bridge to the right, where the view of the pass both ways, with the Garry below, is beaut:'ful. We got out a little way beyond this and walked on a mile to the Palls of the Tummtl, the stream of which is famous for salmon; these falls, however, are not so fine, or nearly ťo high, as those of the Bruar. We got home at half-past six; the day was fast fading, and the lights were lovely.

We watched two stags fighting just under our window; they are in an enclosure, and roar incessantly.

Wednesday, September 18.

At nine o’clock we set off on ponies, to go up one of the hills, Albert riding the dun pony and I the grey, attended only by Lord Glenlyon’s excellent servant, Sandy McAra, in his Highland dress. We went out by the back way across the road, and to the left through the ford, Sandy leading my pony and Albert following closely, the water reaching up above Sandy’s knees. We then went up the hill of Tidloch, first straight up a very steep cabbage-field, and then in a zigzag manner round, till we got up to the top; the ponies scrambling up over stones and everything, and never making a false step; and the view all round being splendid and most beautifully lit up. We went up to the very highest top, which cannot be seen from the house or from below; and from here the view is like a panorama: you see the Falls of the Bruar, Ben-y-Chat, Ben Vrackie, Beny Ghlo, the Killiecrankie Pass, and a whole range of distant hills on the other side, which one cannot at all see from below. In the direction of Taymouth you also see Dalnacardoch, the first stage from Blair. Blair itself and the houses in the village looked like little toys from the great height we were on. It was quite romantic. Here we were with only this Highlander behind us holding the ponies (for we got off twice and walked about)—not a house, not a creature near us, but the pretty Highland sheep, with their horns and black faces,—up at the top of Tulloch, surrounded by beautiful mountains.

We came back the same way that we went, and stopped at the ford to let the ponies drink before we rode through. We walked from inside the gate, and came home at halfpast eleven,—the most delightful, most romantic ride and walk I ever had. I had never been up such a mountain, and then the day was so line. The hill of Tulloch is covered with grass, and is so delightfully soft to walk upon.

Thursday, September 19.

Albert set off, immediately after luncheon, deer-stalking, and I was to follow and wait below in order to see the deer driven down. At four o’clock I set off with Lady Glenlyon and Lady Canning, Mr. Oswald and Lord Charles Wellesley riding, by the lower Glen Tilt drive. We stopped at the end; but were still in the wood; Sandy was looking out and watching. After waiting we were allowed to come out of the carriage, and came upon the road, where we saw some deer on the brow, of the hill. We sat down on the ground, Lady Canning and I sketching, and Sandy and Mr. Oswald, both in Highland costume, (the same that they all wear here, viz. a grey cloth jacket and waistcoat, with a kilt and a Highland

bonnet,) lying on the grass and looking through glasses. After waiting again some time, we were told in a mysterious whisper that “they were coming,” and indeed a great herd did appear on the brow of the hill, and came running down a good way, when most provokingly two men who were walking on the road—which they had no business to have done—suddenly came in sight, and then the herd all ran back again and the sport was spoilt. After waiting some little while we observed Albert, Lord Glenlyon, and the keepers on the brow of the hill, and we got into the carriage, drove a little way, went over tire bridge, where there is a shepherd's “shiel,” and got out and waited for them to join us, which they did almost immediately,—looking very picturesque with their rifles. My poor Albert had not even fired one shot for fear of spoiling the whole thing, but had been running about a good deal. The group of keepers and dogs was very-pretty. After talking and waiting a little while, we walked some way on, and then Albert drove home with us.

Saturday, September 21.

After breakfast Albert saw Lord Glenlyon, who proposed that he should go deer-stalking and that I should follow him. At twenty minutes to eleven we drove off with Lady Canning for Glen lilt. The day was glorious and it would have been a pity to lose it, but it was a long hard day’s work, though extremely delightful and enjoyable, and tinlike anything I had ever done before. I should have enjoyed it still more had I been able to be with Albert the whole time.

We drove nearly to Peter Fraser’s house, which is between the Marble Lodge and Forest Lodge. Here Albert and I walked about a little, and then Lady Canning and we mounted our ponies and set off on our journey, Lord Glenlyon leading my pony the whole way, Peter Fraser, the head-keeper (a wonderfully active man) leading the way; Sandy and six other Highlanders carrying rifles and leading dogs, and the rear brought up by two ponies with our luncheon-box. Lawley, Albert’s Jager, was also there, carrying one of Albert’s rifles; the other Albert slung over his right shoulder, to relieve Lawley. So we set off and wound round and round the hill, which had the most picturesque effect imaginable. Such a splendid Hew all round, finer and more extensive the higher we went! The day was delightful; but the sun very hot. We saw the highest point of Ben-y-Ghlo, which one cannot see from below, and the distant range of hills we had seen from Tulloch was beautifully softened by the slightest haze. We saw Loch Vach. The road was very good, and as we ascended we had to speak in a whisper, as indeed we did almost all day, for fear of coming upon deer unawares. The wind was, however, right, which is everything here for the deer. I wish we could have had Landseer with us to sketch our party, with the background, it was so pretty, as were also the various “halts,” &c. If 1 only had had time to sketch them!

We stopped at the top of the Ghrianan, whence you look down an immense height. It is here that the eagles sometimes sit. Albert got off and looked about in great admiration, and walked on a little, and then remounted his pony. We then went nearly to the top of Cairn Mamain, and here we separated, Albert going off with Peter, Lawley, and two other keepers, to get a "quiet shot" as they call it; and Lady Canning, Lord Glenlyon, and I went up quite to the top, which is deep in moss.

A very good man. His health obliged him to give up being a Jager in 1848 ; he was then appointed a Page, in which position lie continued till he died, in November, 1865.

Here we sat down and stayed some time sketching the ponies below; Lord Glenlyon and Sandy remaining near us. The view was quite beautiful, nothing but mountains all around us,- and the solitude, the complete solitude, very impressive. We saw the range of Mar Forest, and the moer range to the left, receding from us, as we sat facing the hill, called Scar sack, where the counties of Perth, Aberdeen, and Inverness join. My pony was lrought up for me, and we then descended this highest pinnacle, and proceeded on a level to meet Albert, whom I descried coming towards us. We met him shortly after; lie had had bad luck, I am sorry to say. We then sat down on the grass and had some luncheon; then I walked a little with Albert and we got on our ponies. As we went on towards home some deer were seen in Glen Chroine, which is called the “Sanctum where it is supposed that there are a great many. Albert went off soon after this, and we remained on Srop a Chro, for an hour. I am sure, as Lord Glenlyon said by so doing we should turn the deer to Albert, whereas if we went on we should disturb and spoil the whole thing. So we submitted. Albert looked like a little speck creeping about on an opposite hill. We saw four herds of deer, two of them close to us. It was a beautiful sight.

Meanwhile I saw tire sun sinking gradually, and I got quite alarmed lest we should be benighted, and we called anxiously for Sandy, who had gone away for a moment, to give a signal to come back. We then began our descent, “squinting ” the hill, the ponies going as safely and securely as possible. As the sun went down the scenery became more and more beautiful, the sky crimson, golden red and blue, and the hills looking purple and lilac, most exquisite, till at length it set, and the hues grew softer in the sky and the outlines of the hills sharper. I never saw anything so fine. It soon, however, grew very dark.

At length Albert met us, and he told me he had waited all the time for us, as he knew how anxious I should be. He had been very unlucky, and had lost his sport, for the rifle would not go off just when he could have shot some fine harts; yet he was as merry and cheerful as if nothing had happened to disappoint him. We got down quite safely to the bridge ; our ponies going most surely, though it was quite dusk when we were at the bottom of the hi|l. We walked to the Marble Lodge, and then got into tie pony carriage and drove home by very bright moonlight, which made everything look very lovely; but the road made one a little nervous.

We saw a flight of ptarmigan, with their white wings, on the top of Sron a Chro, also plovers, grouse, and pheasants. We were safely home by a quarter to eight.

Tuesday, October 1

At a quarter-past eight o’clock we started, and were very very sorry to leave Blair and the dear Highlands I Every little trifle and every spot I had become attached to; our life of quiet and liberty, everything was so pleasant, and all the Highlanders and people who went with us I had got to like so much. Oh! the dear hills, it made me very sad to leave them behind!

Lord Glenlyon rode with us, and we went back exactly the same road we came; through Killiecrankie, Pitlochrie, saw Logierait, &c. The battle of Killiecrankie was fought m a field to your left, as you come from Blair and before you come to the pass; and Lord Dundee was shut in a garden immediately above the field at Urrard (formerly called Rbnrory) which belongs to Mr. Stewart of Urrard; the Stewarts of Urrard used formerly to live on Craig Urrard. We reached Dunkeld at half-past eleven. Mr. Oswald and Mr. Patrick Small Keir, with a detachment of Highlanders, were there. We drove up to the door of the cottage at Dunkeld and got out there. It is beautifully situated and the cottage is very pretty, with a good view of the river from the windows. Craig-y-Barns is a fine rocky hill to the left as you drive from Blair.

We walked to look at the beginning of the new house which the late Duke of Athole commenced, but which has been left unfinished, and also at a beautiful larch-tree, the first that was brought to Scotland. I rode back on “Aighait Bhean ” for the last time, and took a sad leave of him and of faithful Sandy McAra. We walked into the ruins of the old cathedral and into that part which the late Duke fitted up for service, and where there is a fine monument of him. 1 should never have recognized the grounds of Dunkeld, so different did they look without the encampment. Beautiful as Dunkeld is, it does not approach the beauty and wildness of Blair.

After twelve o’clock we set off again, and to our astonishment Lord Glenlyon insisted upon riding on with us to Dundee, which is 50 miles from Blair! Captain J. Murray also rode with us from Dunkeld. It made me feel sad to see the country becoming flatter and flatter. There was a great crowd at Cupar Angus, and at Dundee a still larger one, and on the pier the crush was very great.

We took leave of Lord Glenlyon with real regret, and he seemed quite unhappy at our going. No one could be more zealous or kinder than he was.

There was a fearful swell when we went in the barge to the yacht.

Thursday, October 3.

The English coast appeared terribly flat. Lord Aberdeen was quite touched when I told him I was so attached to the dear, dear Highlands and missed the fine hills so much. There is a great peculiarity about the Highlands and Highlanders; and they are such a chivalrous, fine, active people. Our stay among them was so delightful. Independently of the beautiful scenery, there was a quiet, a retirement, a wildness, a liberty, and a solitude that had such a charm for us.

The day had cleared up and was bright, but the air very heavy and thick, quite different from the mountain air, which was so pure, light, and brisk. At two o’clock we reached Woolwich, and shortly after disembarked. We proceeded straight to the railroad, and arrived at Windsor Castle at a few minutes past four.


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